Tom Clyde: Civil disobedience
The president announced this week that he is a “very stable genius.” His assessment comes in the wake of a year of peculiar behavior, headed up by juvenile tweets, abrupt policy changes and reversals of those changes, and so on. Even among people who like his policies, there have been some questions about his erratic behavior. The Secretary of State reportedly called him a moron. The whole issue boiled over after a tell-all book came out last week claiming that everybody around him thinks he is childish, a moron, or perhaps in the early stages of dementia.
Those are all pretty alarming ideas. The idea that the fate of the world is in the hands of a man of childish impulses, perhaps starting down the dementia rabbit hole, is very disturbing. But we can all rest easy. The President is not a moron. He’s a very stable genius. He said so himself.
In other news, officials in Salt Lake have announced that there is no smog, and the managers of the ski areas proclaimed this the best ski season ever.
This weekend is the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday, honoring the life and work of a key figure in the civil rights movement. I grew up in about the whitest neighborhood in the whitest state in the country. There wasn’t a lot of personal connection to the movement, but there was a connection to Dr. King himself. I couldn’t fully understand the cause, but his presentation of argument—really the necessity—of change was compelling.
I remember watching him on television, and thinking that this man was changing the world right in front of me, while we ate a nice tuna hot dish for dinner. The demands they were making seemed so reasonable that I couldn’t understand why there was a problem. Fair housing, equal education and job opportunities, voting rights, basic dignity—nothing unreasonable on that list. And I don’t really understand why 50 years later there still remains a problem, but it’s still there, and we all need to keep making progress on solving it.
I doubt that Dr. King ever gave any thought to how a national holiday celebrating his birthday should be observed. It’s the wrong time of year for parades in most of the country. There will be re-enactments of his speeches in sparsely attended formal observances. Mostly there will be mattress sales, and locally, ski vacations. And maybe that’s OK, because what Dr. King wanted was normal life for everybody.
While our parking problems hardly rise to the level of the civil rights movement, there is a certain pleasure in observing the resistance to the new paid parking system in Old Town. People have been breaking the control gates on the garage and exiting without paying. It’s a petty vandalism, and not something to encourage. But still, part of the ethos of Park City has been a lack of structure and regimentation in life. Paid parking is not part of ski bum culture. Not that there’s much ski bum culture left.
It’s hard to know if the people breaking the gates are doing it out of a sense of cultural preservation, civil disobedience, can’t figure out how to work the new system, or don’t have any way to pay on them. Nobody is singing “We Shall Overcome” as they smash through the gate. I have to confess that I haven’t tried the new system. I don’t have the app. I can’t remember my license plate. I’m reluctant to get parked in there, and then try to download and figure it all out in the dark while others wait for me. I’m told it’s not that difficult. But others have said that unless you have a 10-year old kid with you, anybody over 60 will starve to death in the parking garage.
Employees don’t like being told to park in a remote lot and shuttle into Main Street. It makes already long commutes from Salt Lake, Heber, and Kamas that much longer. They don’t feel appreciated. I hadn’t thought about the security issue much, but people leaving jobs late at night with a wad of tip cash in their pockets don’t feel safe waiting for the shuttle.
The other side of that argument is that if the employees fill the available parking places, the customers have no place to park. If there are no customers, there are no tips, and ultimately no employees. So the employees suggest the customers should ride the bus. They are coming from relatively short distances, from lodging in town or at least close. And a lot of the visitors in town do rely on the transit system.
The only thing we all agree on around here is that somebody else should be riding the bus.
Tom Clyde practiced law in Park City for many years. He lives on a working ranch in Woodland and has been writing this column since 1986.
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